Look closely at the images below, and tell you don’t see artistic black and white photos? Well, they’re really just incredibly detailed pencil and charcoal drawings by talented British artist Kelvin Okafor. Mind blown, I know.
It’s safe to say some of the world’s most talented photographs couldn’t capture all the details in Kevin Okafor’s portraits, and instead of high-resolution cameras, his only tools are a set of pencils, a piece of paper and sometimes a stick of charcoal. But then again, not many people have his amazing talent. Like other new-generation artists like 22-year-old Diego Fazo, or the incredible Dirk Dzimirsky, London-based Kelvin Okafor works wonders with his pencils. Too poor to leave the house and socialize, the gifted artist spent most of his childhood and teenage years improving his drawing skills. Instead of partying and clubbing like other kids his age, he found refuge in drawing, and is now reaping his rewards – he charges between £800 ($1,300) to £3,000 ($4,750) for commission works, and some of his best portraits are already being sold for as much £10,000 ($16,000). It might seem like a lot of money, but considering the quality of his work and the amount and time and patience that go into each piece, I’d say it’s worth even more.
Kelvin’s parents came to England from Nigeria, in the hopes that their children could grow up to reach their full potential there. They struggled to raise him, his brother and two sister and made sure “they instilled the message that hard work pays off”. “Most teenagers experiment a lot with their life. They have their experiences” the 27-year-old artist told Daily Mail. “I didn’t have that. But, to be honest, I didn’t want it anyway. I was too busy trying to focus on my craft.” In fact, he was always so absorbed by his work that he didn’t even notice the terrible riots that occurred right in his neighborhood, in 2011. But Kelvin also believes he wouldn’t have become an artist had he not needed a distraction from all the hardships he and his family had to endure during his childhood years. When he was just 11 years old, they came home from a vacation only to find their home had been repossessed. They didn’t have a home for the next three years, which they spent moving “from place to place, from cousin to cousin.” “‘It was a struggle. That’s why I spent a lot of time by myself, drawing. I didn’t have the luxury of going out and spending money” the artist explains.
As you can probably imagine, Kelvin Okafor puts a lot of time into every one of his works. “Before I start drawing, I spend a few hours — even a few days — analyzing the face from every angle,”he says. “I usually start with the eyes. From there, I make the whole shape of the face and I work in the detail. I draw in sections. I’m right-handed so I work from left to right. After I’ve finished the left eye, I work the nostrils, then the left side of the cheek, then the lips. I always work in that order. I work for four hours in one go, take a half-hour break, work another four to five hours, then have another half-hour break. After that I’ll work for as long as I can. Sometimes I might work ten to 15 hours in one day. It takes me on average 80 to 100 hours to do a portrait.” It’s painstaking work, but the end result is simply breath-taking.
King Hussein of Jordan
Source: Daily Mail
All photos are © Kelvin Okafor